In this season of my life, there is very little that is more satisfying than a stocked fridge or pantry. It gives me a sense of control. A sense of accomplishment. It means I’m prepared for the potential disasters that may lie ahead. It is the picture of time well spent. A bright future. I went shopping today. It is going to be a good day.
Don’t judge the contents of the picture. Sometimes, when you go shopping with a 1 year old, two 3 year olds, and a 6 year old, its about quantity…not quality. Today I’ve got quantity. And like I said, today is a good day.
Some days are not so. The harder days look something like this:
I wake up (much too early) to the smell of pancakes cooking on the griddle, the sound of chairs screeching along the wood floor as the kids pull them out. Pancakes are Aaron’s favorite breakfast, so they are our kids’ favorite too. To them, pancakes are worth getting out of bed at 6 for. I drag my zombie-self out of bed and enter the fog that is my family in the morning. I don’t feel like pancakes on most days. I think to myself a green smoothie sounds like a good pick-me-up and I open the fridge to search for ingredients.
Okay, well I guess oatmeal will do. I’ll have a bowl of oatmeal.
I sigh, and reheat the single pancake that is left on the plate. As I wait for the toaster to ding, the kids have finished their breakfast and are asking for juice.
“We don’t have any juice kids, sorry,” I slur my words together.
“But mom, pleeeease! I want some juice!”
I repeat that we don’t have any, “Would you like some water?” Of course not. Water? Puh-leeeze. The thought occurs to me that we should probably go to the store today, but a vision flashes through my my mind:
Everyone dressed, shoes on, in the car (“I have to go potty!”), back in the house (“Mom, I don’t want to stay in the car by myself!”), back in the car, to the store, find the ONLY cart that will fit my whole family + groceries (“Mom, I want to ride in the car part!”), fill the cart with three times as much as was on my list and none of it is healthy (“I have to go potty again!”), get to check out (“Don’t let them take our food!”), “Do you need some help out miss…?”, “No thanks, I got this”, out to the car, load up one kid, two, three (“Get back in your seats boys!”), four, return cart, get in the car…
“Mom, it’s hot in here!!!” I think we can last a couple more days without food…I fill their sippy-cups with water.
I realize the toaster was done a while ago, and retrieve the pancake. Upon seeing the last, lone pancake, the kids descend on me like sharks. I cut it into quarters and tell them to go back to the table.
A few hours and many frantic petitions for snacks later, I submit to their pleas and load everyone up in the car. It goes just as my vision foretold, with one exception. The car-cart is not available. Which means I can fit Lochlan in the front seat and the twins in the basket. Jade will walk along side. There is no room for anything else. We decide to go to the deli for chicken fingers and potato wedges.
Later that evening, Aaron comes home. “What did you have in mind for dinner tonight?” He asks. I look again in the pantry. Maybe it will look different this time.
“How about pancakes?” Pancakes sound pretty good right about now.
There is much more in a days work than this, but somehow I really do feel like with a kitchen full of food I can take on anything. You never know what new kid-cravings (or aversions) the day will bring, and to be prepared is everything. Having peanut butter on hand on an I-hate-ham-sandwiches kind of day could be the difference between tears and laughter — mine and the children’s.
At times like this, I think a lot of the parable of the 10 virgins. If you know this story, you know that the 10 women who have been chosen to light the way for the bridegroom to enter his wedding celebration all start out with oil in their lamps. However, half of them have the good sense to bring along extra oil in case they have to wait longer than expected. The others run out of oil, their lights go out, and in the chaos of trying to find more oil they miss the celebration.
I think of this story almost every time we’re running low on food or any time I face a challenge that could have been avoided if I’d anticipated the possibilities. This was a lesson I remember my dad teaching me in middle school. Anticipate the possibilities. It may be a lesson I need to learn many times. It would be wise to learn this lesson sooner rather than later.
I read a quote recently. “Sometimes we grow complacent, thinking we have enough to get by…Being wise means being prepared for the unexpected with an extra measure of faith, testimony, and Spirit in our lives.” -Anonymous
The 10 wise virgins didn’t just attend the wedding ceremony with a lamp. These women also carried with them a vessel for the purpose of storing backup oil. I imagine that the foolish or unprepared women could have thought it’s inconvenient to carry something extra with me, or possibly my vessel doesn’t go with my outfit. Either way they thought it was excessive to pack along something that couldn’t possibly be necessary or it just didn’t cross their minds in the first place.
Most of the time preparation is inconvenient or undesirable for one reason or another — Taking all of my children to the grocery store is anything but desirable — but the effort is worth the peace that comes with being ready when the unexpected occurs. It is never foolish to be too prepared.